Link Building 101 – How to Determine the Quality of Potential Links Without Looking at the Page Rank

We already talked about Page Rank and the importance of PR in link building, or in other words, the lack of it today. Page Rank is not the factor you should be looking at these days when building links, if you want to look at ranks so bad, you can look at MozRank, it’s currently more accurate and what is more important, it’s regularly updated. But we are not here to talk about Page Rank or MozRank, we are here to talk about ranking your pages on your own. We are here to talk about how to determine what quality are the potential links without looking at any of these premade ranks. This is the only way to ensure that you actually get a high quality link. Of course before you go any further, this is only for serious and advanced link building. If you want to build profile links or comments or links through directories this wont’ make much difference.

Now that we got that out of the way let’s talk about link building and finding quality pages for your potential links, and how to recognize those pages. So how do we find out which sites and pages are good to get links from without looking at the Page Rank? There are several things we should be looking at:

Do Follow or No Follow

do-follow-or-no-followI am a strong follower of free linking policy, which means I don’t care if it is a do follow or a no follow link when I build links for my sites, but when it comes to my clients I have to stick to do follow as Google will in most cases rely only on them for your rankings (but it does follow certain no follow links). So the first thing you should do is download a plugin that will recognize no follow links so you shouldn’t look at the source code of each website and page all the time.

Ranking Website for Your Keywords

The first thing you need to check when looking for websites to link to you is to find highly related websites, in most cases those are the ones that rank for the same keywords as you do. If they are your direct competition than it’s obvious that you will have no chance of getting a link there, but if they aren’t a competitor than this is the perfect place to ask for a link as this link can give you plenty of juice.


We just mentioned that you need to look for a website that has rankings for the same keyword that you are going for, but that may mean that they are ranking for that single keyword in your niche and no other, so there is an off shot chance that the website is not that highly related to yours, which is fine, but you also need to look for website that have a topic related content to yours, these are the best sites for linking, and if you can score some deep links than you are ahead of the game.

Authority and Trust

Authority_relevance_trustThis is a tricky one; you can of course look for the age of the domain first. There are plenty of website you can visit to find out the age of a domain, you can just type the domain in and you will see some basic info about the website including the creation date. Now age of the domain doesn’t necessarily mean that the website is trusted by Google, but it’s more likely that Google will give more trust to an aged domain than to a new one.

Of course there is also the quality of the content, number of links the website has and to whom they link to as well as who links to them. We said that this is the hardest part of figuring out, but you will be able to smell the authority after some time once you get into link building, it comes naturally after some time.

Outbound Links

outbound_linksOutbound links are very important factor in figuring out if the website and the page are good places to get links from. The first thing to look for is the number of outgoing links. The less there are the better. The second thing to look is if they are already linking to your competitors, if they are linking to 2 or more of your competitors you can probably get a link from that page without too much hassle. But remember, at the same time, although the lower number of OBL is good for you, in most cases that means that the webmaster is careful with his links and will not give you the link, while a page with more links is probably an easier target for your link building campaign.

In the end we all need a variety of links, so don’t go just for one type of link. Also, make sure you mix the do follow with no follow and use various link anchors, but don’t go for keyword cannibalization. Remember that there is no such thing as a perfect link, there are good and bad links, but links are links and if you are too picky you won’t get any, but at the same time you shouldn’t lower your standards too much just to get a few links.

About The Author

is the founder and CEO of Practical SEO and also a passionate blogger. All of his free time he dedicates to his Practical SEO blog and giving free advice as well as participating in the blogging community.

Connect with me on Facebook | Twitter | Google + | LinkedIn

22 Response to Link Building 101 – How to Determine the Quality of Potential Links Without Looking at the Page Rank

  1. Keith@MLM Leads on March 30, 2011

    Hi Zarko,

    Thanks for the linking information! I have a question if you have time. You mentioned that Google does follow some no follow links. Any idea which ones these are?

    Thanks again for the great information. Linking posts are very very helpful to us new blog owners that are just getting started.

  2. Zarko on March 30, 2011

    Hi Keith,

    That is a great question I would also like a clear answer to! The truth is I have no clue, which is why I suggest that you don’t discriminate with your link building. But to know which ones worked for your sites and were indexed and followed you will have to take a closer look in your webmaster tools, I have around 100+ no follow links shown by Google there and a great number of them comes from high profile Twitter users, so go figure.

  3. Maria Pavel on March 31, 2011

    It’s a good thing you don’t care about do-follow/no-follow backlinks, since i’ve heard Google can penalize a website if it has too many do-follow backlinks. The reason is understandable, since do-follow websites are especially rare (maybe under 1%?), one website with 1000 backlinks from which 900 are do-follow will appear suspicious of black hat techniques.
    Google still crawls no-follow links, it just doesn’t pass their authority to the website.

  4. Zarko on March 31, 2011

    Hi Maria, well you got the theory down basically, Google will definitely see it unnatural if you have a great majority of do follow links only or if you build only do follow links for a certain amount of time, but but in the ration you mentioned. There are much more do follow websites than you can imagine, and since everyone wants to be indexed and has some link juice flow to their pages do follow prevails over no follow, trust me on that one!

    And for the last part…doesn’t pass no follow link authority to the website…that would be the textbook, but from what I see and hear I am slowly beginning to think that is not absolutely true, but we will see about that yet :)

  5. Kyle Alm@Internet Marketing on March 31, 2011

    The nofollow v follow thing is always interesting.

    nofollow is NOT noindex

    The links will get indexed on the page, but they won’t get crawled (followed) or pass PR or anchor text. At least that is the official word from Big G.

    Always pursue a diversified strategy for link building, it’s never a good idea to put all of your eggs in one basket.

  6. Jennifer @ Sacramento SEO on March 31, 2011

    I think that link building should look as natural as possible; therefore, focusing on “dofollow” links without paying attention to other aspects of the links isn’t a good thing. I would say it’s more important to make sure your link profile is diverse, with a nice variety of link types.

  7. Kyle @ Ascentive on April 1, 2011

    I agree with Jen above. I’ve always used the, ever so scientific, 80/20 rule. I try to make 80 percent of my comments dofollow and 20 percent nofollow. I don’t know that it makes the links look entirely organic, but I think it helps make your overall link profile more realistic.

  8. Round Up #14 — lawmacs web design blog on April 3, 2011

    [...] Link Building 101 – How to Determine the Quality of Potential Links Without Looking at the Page Ra…- We already talked about Page Rank and the importance of PR in link building, or in other words, [...]

  9. Aswani Kumar Srivastava on April 4, 2011

    Thanks a lot for such useful and informative post. I haven’t been into link building from long but I will surely follow your tips and advises if I am into the same again. Keep writing!

  10. Internet Marketing Specialist on April 5, 2011

    Hi Zarko,

    Interesting post! I’am hooked by the domain trust element as I believe it makes a difference. Also liked the deep links article which really cleared some things up. One question I have though .. do you know if you are looking for identical (relevant) sites you need to find sites in the same language? I guess so but are not 100% sure.

    Certainly coming back for reading new posts!

  11. Zarko on April 5, 2011

    That is really a great question… You see the thing is that relevant site is a relevant site, and also a link is a link, those two put together give you something we all want, but the issue here with different language is whether Google sees the site relevant or not! In most cases it will, specially if their are closely related, thankfully SEO is spelled the same in almost every language, but the reason why I avoid linking from other language websites is because I have no clue what is written there and what their links say. Yes Google will translate the page for me, but their translation is not that good and I prefer I investigate the sites I get links from or the sites I link to!

  12. Felicia @ No Deposit Poker on April 7, 2011

    Hi Zarko,
    This is very well thought out and very well said. I never really imagined there were numbers involved with outbound links. I simply thought as long as there were outbound links on a site going to your site, regardless of numbers, then all is good.
    Thanks for sharing!

  13. Zarko on April 7, 2011

    Hi Felicia, well we did mention in number of posts in the past that a great number of outbound links from your page can hurt your rankings as you can even bee seen as a link farm in some cases. The best way to deal with it is either to remove a great number of links (my recommendation) or to make a great number of them no follow!

  14. Chris@ROI Unlimited on April 10, 2011

    Hey Zarko,

    I glad someone brushed up on the “DO Follow” Vs. “No Follow”. In my SEO campaigns I always recommend to have at least 25% of backlinks to be “No Follow”. I have found, as well as you have, that Google sometimes counts those. But the important fact is, they also add to the natural linking process of any website. Google likes to see “No Follows” links as well…it’s good to mix it up a little. Natural Linking is the key to a solid SEO campaign

  15. Samantha@teeth grinding on April 11, 2011

    I’ve read before from other blogger’s post that he also value no follow links. Like what he said, links are links, no matter if these are dofollow or nofollow links. Maybe bloggers can prove this theory based on their standing anyway.

  16. Peter Lawlor@Website Template Reviews on April 11, 2011

    Good analysis for linkbuilding. I’ll expand briefly on one strategy you mentioned that I believe is excellent, and that is looking at who is linking to your competition. You can find this out by entering your competitions’ URLs into Yahoo Site Explorer. Site Explorer won’t provide you all the incoming links, but it certainly will provide many of them. Then you need simply go into each of those websites and assess the suitability for a backlink. This is a very effective method.

  17. Brady Lewis@ASVAB Tips on April 19, 2011

    I totally agree with acquiring links from nofollow and dofollow. I feel like there are currently some benefits, and I truly believe that none of us know what Google will do in the future. Heck, at some point in time they could even trash the nofollow/dofollow scheme entirely and treat both equally once again. You just never know.

  18. Zarko on April 19, 2011

    yeah, no or do follow is of no significant consequences if you take real visitors into account. If you only build links for the search engines you will never get the full potential out of your link building campaign!

  19. Nisheeth on April 29, 2011

    Thank your for highlighting great points for determining the quality of links.

  20. Adrian@Sheds on June 18, 2011

    I guess PR could sometimes confuse people when they’re trying to see things. It might mislead people. I agree to what you said that the reader should rank the page for himself. Because only the reader knows what’s best suits him.

  21. Selena Gomez on April 5, 2012

    Hi Zarko Zivkovic
    I learned a lot from your article but i have some questions. most of the times i have seen that people just do link exchange with other partially related sites and get significant amount of backlinks very fast in a very short span of time.. is it true that search engines don’t like those sites which get very high amount of links in a very short span of time.
    more over like social bookmarking does.. my scenario is that i make a post related to my site niche and then submit it to almost 30 to 40 book marking sites. but even then after weeks pass by i dont get rankings on the words which i am trying to. even though the competition according to google adword tool is also very low and the search volume is also good but it gets difficult for me to come on first page of any search engine,
    can you plz have a look at my blog and guide me that what should be my routine of link building and what should be the procedure.
    thanks and waiting for your reply.

  22. Selena Gomez on April 6, 2012

    Hi Zarko Zivkovic ..
    thanks for such a detailed and informative guideline. i really appreciate that. from now on i will stop making bookmarking posts and will try to do some more which you have mentioned like be the leading one in the beginning.
    one thing which i would like to know is that a matter of fact the more content you have on your blog , more chances of maximum visitors. i want to know one thing that approximately how many posts should we make daily on our blog. i have heard from some where if you keep on making new posts every hour on your blog ..that is also a bad impression in search engine eyes because the sites updating very quickly and may be can go in to sandbox.. heard the term from one of my blogger friend that if you make posts very quick than the site might go in to sand box and you will be penalized from search engines
    can you plz tell what is sand box and what should be the posting routine on the blog.. i mean how many posts should i make in every 24 hours to get good amount of visitors.. currently the visitor count is good but i want to beat of of my leading competitor which is extremely good.
    thanks in advance and waiting for your reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.